To be competitive for a postdoctoral fellowship in the humanities, you will need to describe your plans for a second project. Doctoral students who are still in the process of dissertation writing often find this to be a challenging task. You may wonder, “How I can I think about a second project when I haven’t finished the first? As a postdoc, won’t I primarily dedicate my time to turning my dissertation into a book?” It is true that one of the goals you describe for your postdoctoral fellowship application will be to publish your first project into a manuscript with a prestigious press. However, you will also need to make a persuasive case that you have thought through a direction for future research. The expectation is that you start this second project during your fellowship tenure.
There are different ways to begin to brainstorm topics for your second project. In the process of conducting your dissertation research, for example, did new questions and lines of inquiry open up? Did you find that you discovered sources or arguments that had promise but were too tangential to the dissertation project to include it in your first book? Discoveries like these could be the seed for your second project. If you are still at the drawing board stages, it is also a good idea to brainstorm with your adviser. Together, you can start developing ideas for a new project that is distinct from the dissertation, but that also develops organically from the research trajectory you have established up to this point.